Photo by Sarah Vinci | Current washers and dryers will be replaced next year.
On Oct 9, the University of Rhode Island welcomed Jeff Fountain, the new manager of the upcoming broadcast studio being renovated in Chafee Social Science Center.
Fountain has been working in the film and television industry for over 30 years. His experience in the industry is what drew him towards the position at URI. “I want to bring an opportunity for students to gain the fundamental tools and skills to be able to hit the ground running in a career in studio television production,” Fountain said.
Fountain touched on his appreciation for the experiences provided by the Harrington school, as he did not have those resources available to him when he was starting out. “When I started out in the industry, there really was no school like the Harrington offering the opportunity to learn about television production from broadcast professionals,” Fountain said.
Growing up, he could only view three television channels. Mainly, those channels were the major networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. TV was a very big part of Fountain’s life and from an early age, which is what drew him to TV production. However, he found some trouble figuring out how to get into the industry. “If you wanted to get into television, you had to have experience,” Fountain said. “It’s like that Catch-22. How can I get in if I don’t have experience and if I don’t have experience, how can I get in?”
Fountain was advised to apply to TV stations to see if a summer job was available. He went into the phonebook and sent out letters to all local TV stations, and the single reply he received was from KTVX in Salt Lake City, Utah, who offered him a entry level position for the summer. Fountain accepted and drove all the way to Utah with nowhere to live. He managed to rent a room with the University of Utah’s Sigma Nu fraternity for the summer.
For his first two weeks of work, Fountain was only allowed to gas up and wash the news cars for the station. After those two weeks, he was brought in to train in the station’s videotape department. From there, he continued to gain experience working in all aspects of a live broadcast. The very next summer, he got a job working on a soap opera for ABC after gaining experience at KTVX.
Fountain talked about the projects that he takes much pride in. Most notably, he has won three Emmy awards for working on NBC Sports’ coverage of the Summer Olympics as a Technical Director. Fountain was also a part of the team that put together the Food Network. “We walked into MTV’s old studios and the grid had been stripped and the control room was empty,” Fountain said. “It was a shell. We built brand new studios for the Food Network to do brand new shows.”
The industry has changed so much from when Fountain first started. However, he has not found it hard to adjust to new technology. “The technology has come forward so rapidly that it’s automated many positions,” Fountain said. “That’s part of our job in broadcasting, that you evolve and go with it. You embrace it.”